“He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord…’”
(John 1:23 ESV)
Advent is upon us once again, for better or worse. This is, I admit, my favorite time of year; but it seems to get harder and harder to enjoy.
Have you noticed the advertising on TV lately: “Now is the time to buy this new car…” “The perfect gift for the guy who has everything…” “Don’t miss our holiday sale…” “Doors open at 4 a.m. …” One would think that Advent is nothing more than a marketing season, one last ditch effort to boost the profits for retailers. I’m all for a strong and robust economy, but is this really what Advent is all about – a reminder that we only have so many shopping days left until Christmas?
Here in the Church Advent is our countdown to Christmas. We light candles each week signifying the coming of the light of Christ. We decorate the church with greens and purples, with nativities and chrismons; we sing the classic carols that draw us into the “Christmas Spirit.” Advent is our time to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ, the mystery of His incarnation, and God’s gracious gift of our Savior. But, I ask again, is this really what Advent is all about?
Advent means “coming”, and as such it is appropriate that we use this time to celebrate the coming of the Christ child; but there is more to Advent, there is more to our faith than the birth of a child. Our Lord promised His disciples, promised us, that He would come again to take us to be with Him. Many Christians don’t talk about this promise openly because it has been the source of so much speculation and fantasy that we really don’t know what we believe.
The Bible teaches that Jesus will come again, in a very personal and powerful way. His coming will not be missed, as He will be joined by clouds of glory and a heavenly fanfare (1 Thess 4:13-5:11). At His coming, the faithful in Christ will experience a rapture – we will be taken up in the air to meet Christ as He comes. We will not be whisked away in secret, but will meet Christ in the air as He returns and take part in His triumphal return.
Advent is our time to focus on the return of Christ. As Christians, we should always be vigilant in our watching and waiting for Christ’s coming. Though we do not know when this will be, we are to be prepared. May your Advent prepare you for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, and may you also be filled with anticipation and expectation of His return.